eBooks can’t cross digital borders

Sony eReader

It’s not me. It’s you.

Over the past few months I’ve been spending more money on books (and now magazines) than any other hobby. I buy them online and have them shipped to my door (4 bought + 2.5 read in January). I go to the bookstore to purchase novels that catch my fancy (1 bought today). I pick through the stacks on the foldout tables that crowd the sidewalks on sunny days in Brooklyn (1 read in January). I buy them at the airport between flights (1 bought and read in January). And I also download them from the eReader store (1 bought today).

For my love of the written word, I’ll continue to purchase books and support the world of publishing until I’m blind in both eyes. But despite my affection for technology and appreciation of my eReader, I’m ditching the eReader store for one of its many competitors.

Today I experienced the frustration of downloading a book that was purchased using a US Visa onto an eReader registered in Canada. It’s like trying to open a can with nothing but a spoon.

I’m breaking up with Sony because like too many other companies with e-commerce websites, they don’t accommodate international travellers or citizens. More specifically, they assume that their customers don’t move across borders and so they don’t allow people like me to change their account information to include an address in a different country or credit card in a different currency.  For a technology-based company with an international presence, this makes absolutely no sense.

But maybe these companies have got it right about their customers not moving countries. After all, I’m no longer a customer of theirs so I don’t count.